Opera Gift on song at Salisbury

Opera Gift signalled his potential as a staying handicapper this summer after handling lively ground to record a promising victory at Salisbury.

Andrew Balding’s Nathaniel gelding cruised into contention and then buckled down well under David Probert to beat Midnights Legacy by more than two lengths – with early pace-setter Gumball a nose further back in the AJN Steelstock ‘Delivering Steel Expertise’ City Bowl Handicap.

Salisbury’s chairman Jeff Smith and Balding had to settle for fifth with their 1000 Guineas hope Alcohol Free a little later at Newmarket.

But the Group One-winning filly nonethless ran well again – and in Opera Gift, they have a home-bred who looks sure to improve too.

Probert said: “His work has been OK, and we thought the ground might be a bit quick for him.

“We got racing a long way out, but in truth I never felt the outcome was in any doubt. He’s a very nice, progressive type for Andrew and Mr Smith, and showed his ability today.”

Walls Of Kano emerged a neck victor over Aesthete for Brian Meehan and Martin Dwyer in an incident-packed AJN Steelstock ‘Success Breeds Success’ Novice Stakes.

State Secretary was pulled up, and favourite Hamoudi unshipped his jockey after putting his foot in a hole, but Walls Of Kano then stretched out willingly to open his account at the second attempt.

Meehan said: “He needed his run at Newbury, and I was really pleased with him today.

“It made sense with his pedigree to drop him back (in trip) a little bit. He hasn’t come in his coat but is a good, straightforward individual who loves doing his work every morning. I think he’s got a bright future.”

Ralph Beckett’s Oman had to work under Hector Crouch for his all-the-way triumph in the British EBF AJN Steelstock ‘Supporting UK Construction’ Maiden Stakes.

The 7-4 favourite was the first to come under a ride, a long way out, but he responded to pull a length and a quarter clear of Mellow Magic.

Beckett said: “He’s not a horse who knocks himself out, and was flicking his ears, so Hector decided he wasn’t doing enough and kicked on.

“The Rowley Mile didn’t suit him in a back-end nursery last year, but I always thought he would get a mile and a half and also a mile and threequarters.”

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Samoot made a fine impression when rewarding support into 10-11 by winning the AJN Steelstock ‘Your Perfect Partner’ Handicap.

Under Richard Kingscote, the Shadwell Estate filly comfortably held the late challenge of Rosemary And Thyne.

Kingscote said: “She’s still only learning, but was much more professional today.

“They’ve done a lot more work with her at home. I got a lovely smooth run through – she has a very good attitude and has done the job well.”

There was a minor shock in the opening AJN Steelstock ‘Real Steel’ Fillies’ Conditions Stakes when 5-4 favourite Out In Yorkshire was unable to resist Silver Bullet Lady.

The 7-1 winner came from last to first under Hollie Doyle to land the spoils for trainer Roger Charlton.

In a tight finish to the AJN Steelstock ‘The Winning Team’ Handicap, Alan King’s 5-4 favourite No Recollection clung on by a nose under Martin Harley to get the better of Farhan.

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